Another BFR Success Story: BFR in Natural BodyBuilding

Here is how BFR training was used in a professional natural bodybuilder’s training routine to maintain a training effect throughout the COVID-19 gym closures in conjunction with a well-thought out training program with proper workload management, progressive overload, and recovery, BFR once again proved that it can help improve quality of life and allow patients to accelerate their performance & recovery back to the activities they love!

This athlete was a 39 y/o male professional natural bodybuilder with 15+ years of training experience. His last competitive season was 2016 and he was in the midst of his offseason. After recovering both mentally and physically from contest prep, he had been making steady improvements in strength and
hypertrophy while sticking to a strategic caloric surplus and intelligent training program.

For a natural bodybuilder, the offseason is absolutely crucial. Since natural bodybuilders do not take anabolic steroids, the process of dieting for a competition causes significant loss of muscle mass and strength, even with the most intelligent and genetically gifted individuals. Natural athletes get smaller and weaker during contest prep and bigger and stronger in the offseason. The offseason is a time for progression, adaptation, and building and missing out on that time could be career altering for a seasoned natural competitor. It is understandable then, that having a
worldwide pandemic during an offseason would be problematic for a natural pro. When COVID-19 caused the world to shut down, like all of us, this athlete was forced to find innovative ways to train. He wasn’t fortunate enough to have much home gym equipment other than a 40lb kettlebell. Unlike an untrained individual, he was a veteran in the iron game so his body required a fair amount of stimulation to elicit changes or at least maintain his level of muscularity. He was able to perform a decent amount of upper body work including things like pull-up and inverted row variations for his back, close grip push ups for triceps, curls with random household objects for biceps, deficit push ups for chest, and shoulder raise variations for his shoulders. Legs turned out to be a bit more challenging.

Our athlete knew of BFR training and decided it would be worth giving a shot. He decided to implement BFR with Bulgarian split squats, tempo squats, and calf raises while holding his 40lb kettlebell. This allowed him to achieve similar effects in strength and hypertrophy with a fraction of the load that would typically be required. He was able to maintain his leg strength and size without access to heavy weights by integrating BFR training into his existing well-structured program. It should be noted that BFR was simply one of many reasons why he was successful. He also was keen on sleep, nutrition, stress management, progressive overload, and recovery. This particular athlete is now back at the gym and continues to use BFR today.

Remember, the use of BFR training should not be based solely on a success story. The decision to use BFR, or any treatment for that matter, should be based on the pillars of evidence-based practice.

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